Urmas Paet: Estonian design captures hearts abroad
For those of you who haven’t seen us lately, our pop-up showroom, currently stationed at Solo Sokos Hotel Estoria, has a completely new look! Built around Wuruhi’s deep blue colour and fantastic wolves, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Some time ago we hosted a small gathering our showroom with Estonia’s MEP Urmas Paet and two leather accessory artists, Astrid Rajalo and DeMoog Design House. We even had the pleasure of receiving a private tour from in Hotel Estoria where every room introduces Estonia through stories and design.
Afterwards, snacks were accompanied by discussions on the importance of preserving and promoting true craftsmanship in Estonia and abroad. For Estonians it might be relatively usual to see high quality leather products. Through our work in Wuruhi though, we see how appreciated it is by foreigners who are only used to mass production or insanely highly priced designer pieces.
We as a society are small – however, the potential our designers have is incredible. Design just like the handmade leather jewellery by Astrid Rajalo, smart leather accessories by DeMoog Design House and other Estonian designers could represent the future of Estonian export.
Making sure sustainable craftsmanship and small enterprises succeed while also attracting new generations of artists is the key.
As is customary, Wuruhi took a chance to ask and dig deeper. Here’s a quick bite of how an experienced political representative of Estonia, Urmas Paet, sees the role of design in our lives and our future.
To what extent would you say Europeans take pleasure in culture and good design?
Enjoying culture and good design is an important part of life for Europeans. This is nothing new – quite the opposite, it’s a tradition going back centuries.
Estonians appreciate good design more and more. We have numerous talented designers who have the potential to make it internationally. I hope that both awareness and interest in our society about Estonian design continues to rise.
What associations come to your mind with “Estonian design”?
Pure and harsh forms. Quality materials. Nature. Nordic.
Have your visits representing Estonia been in any way connected to Estonian design?
As a Minister of Foreign Affairs and afterwards I’ve always tried to introduce Estonia to some other foreign Minister or colleague with the help of, hopefully a memorable, gift. These gifts were always made by Estonian artists. Be it the Kihnu pillow, Haapsalu scarf or modern jewellery and accessories.
The places where I’ve invited our guests to, from Pädaste manor to KUMU, are also great for introducing Estonian design and architecture.
Is Estonian design as a whole something that has a chance of winning hearts abroad as well?
Yes, I do think so. International business does presume elaborate planning and courage because competition is high. But Estonian artists and designers are truly world class.
Do you yourself wear Estonian design or have a favourite designer item or artist?
I use an Estonian design wallet and cufflinks daily.
By the way, I do consider Oskar Metsavaht, the founder of the brand Osklen in Brazil, an Estonian designer. His grandfather is from Estonia and he’s also an Estonian citizen. I have quite a few clothes and shoes from his creation, many of them my all-time favourites.
Photographed by Arttu Karvonen